In "The Monkey's Paw," what can you conclude about whether Mr. White's first wish was a sensible choice?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs, Mr. White's first wish seems sensible enough. He is not sure that he actually believes what the Sergeant Major has told him about it anyway, but he does heed Morris' warning by wishing for something he feels is sensible. Wishing for enough money to pay off his mortgage is not greedy or selfish in most people's eyes.

If he had wished for "all the money in the world," as people often do, that would not seem very sensible because if it were to come true, nobody else in the world would have any money at all. By wishing for just enough, Mr. White, his wife, and son all felt as though they were being sensible.

Of course in the end, Mr. and Mrs. White would do anything to take that wish back. Perhaps they should have listened more closely to what Morris said about how wishes occur in a very natural kind of way. If they had thought through what consequences might come because of their wish, they may have passed it up, but how could they possibly know? Maybe they should have questioned Sergeant Major Morris more thoroughly. If they had found out how the wishes of the men before them had manifested, they probably would not have wished at all. 

The wish was sensible, but the consequences of the wish were horrifying.

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The Monkey's Paw

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